The Best Running Headphones & Wireless Earbuds of 2021

Wireless Earbuds & Over-Ear Bluetooth Headphones That Will Stand Up To The Toughest Trail & Ultra Marathon Runs

Welcome to our Best Running Headphones guide in which we have selected the best wireless earbuds and over-ear headphones for running, whether that’s on roads as well as trail running and ultra marathons. Because of the features that make these the best headphones running, they are also great headphones for workouts, the gym, hiking and day-to-day use.

Wireless headphones, including in-the-ear earbuds, are much more affordable than they used to be and the Bluetooth connection is so much more stable, so all headphones in this list are wireless and connect to your music device (for example, your phone) using Bluetooth. Some of these running headphones are attached to each other, which has its pros and cons which are explained in the brief reviews for each of the wireless running headphones below.

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For more information on choosing the best running headphones for you, including the key features of the different types of running headphones such as a comparison between over-ear headphones and in-ear earbuds, click here to jump down to our running headphones buyer’s guide. Otherwise, read on to see our shortlist of the best running headphones.


Best Running Headphones – Table of Contents


Overall Best Earbuds for Running

1. KLH Fusion True Wireless Earbuds [with Noise-Canceling]

This was such a close call for us to make but the KLH Fusion True Wireless Earbuds are the best wireless earbuds for running. They have also been awarded the coveted Trail & Kale Editor’s Choice Award! Key features of these KLH earbuds include:

They have excellent noise-canceling for in-ear earbuds and support 48kHz/24-bit music quality over Bluetooth, which means it’s possible to hear even the smallest details in your music. The Bluetooth connectivity is very stable and responsive and I have not experienced any audio lag while watching YouTube or Netflix videos on my laptop or smartphone.

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These earbuds are very comfortable to wear for long periods as they are so lightweight and fit securely fit with no worry of them falling out when you’re working out, plus they are IPX5 waterproof (so you can wear them in the rain but don’t submerge them), and they’re sweatproof. For more details on the key features, click here to read my full review.

  • Sound quality: Excellent
  • Waterproof rating: IPX5 (waterproof and sweatproof)
  • Weight: 0.35oz (two earbuds together), 2.4oz with case
  • Battery life: 7 hours per earbud, extends to 28 hours with charging case
  • Reasons to buy: Feature-packed, noise canceling, great battery life
  • Downsides: At $200, they are one of the more expensive running headphone options

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Most Durable Wireless Earbuds for Running

2. Jaybird VISTA True Wireless Headphones

jaybird vista product image best true wireless headphones trail and kale

The Jaybird VISTA true wireless headphones, which I have had the pleasure of running many trail miles with, are truly awesome sounding earbuds, with extreme durability for running and mountain adventures.

Jaybird VISTA wireless headphones are IPX7 waterproof, sweatproof, crushproof, and are some of the lightest, most comfortable true wireless headphones we have ever tested. While they shouldn’t fall out of your ear when you’re running, if you drop them then due to the high level of durability they should survive the fall, wherever you drop them.

The Jaybird VISTA earbuds have plenty of unique design features that improve their usability beyond many other competitor sports earbuds, which I talk in detail about in my full Jaybird VISTA review.

  • Sound quality: Excellent
  • Waterproof rating: IPX7 (waterproof and sweatproof)
  • Weight: 0.42oz (two earbuds), 1.59oz with case
  • Battery life: 6 hours plus an additional 10 hours with charging case, per earbud
  • Reasons to buy: Waterproof (can be submerged), super durable and robust for wireless earbuds
  • Downsides: Hard to find – just missed out to KLH Fusion as they don’t have noise-canceling

GET $10 Off Jaybird VISTA (or any other single Jaybird product) using the button (or shopping at Jaybird’s online store via the link below) exclusive coupon code: TrailandKale

This was a close call but the Jaybird VISTA wireless earbuds now sits in the number 2 spot of this best wireless headphones for running, and ultrarunning buyer’s guide, narrowly beaten by the KLH Fusion Noise-canceling Earbuds. I have also given them an Editor’s Choice Award.

FULL REVIEW: Jaybird VISTA Review: Editor’s Choice Award Winner


Running Headphones With Pulse Sensor

3. Bose Soundsport Pulse Wireless Headphones

Bose Soundsport Pulse Wireless Headphones Best Wireless Headphones for running

Given the Soundsport Pulse Wireless Headphones are made by Bose, you can expect excellent sound quality, so they’re a great choice if you’re really into your music for workouts, whether that’s in the gym or out running trails.

These Bose headphones have a built-in heart rate sensor, which means that with the Bose Connect app you can monitor your heart rate readings in real-time. This is a great feature if you run or work out without a GPS running watch, or one which doesn’t have a heart rate monitor, as you can do so through your headphones instead.

Note the headphones are wired to each other (similar to the Jaybird Tarah Pro) and connect to your phone or music device (such as the Mighty Vibe) wirelessly via Bluetooth. You may prefer this style because if you knock one out by accident then it will land on your back or shoulder (assuming the other earbud is still in your ear) rather than falling to the floor.

  • Sound quality: Excellent
  • Waterproof rating: IPX4 (water-resistant)
  • Weight: 0.81oz
  • Battery life: 5 hours
  • Reasons to buy: Excellent Bose sound quality and headphones wired to each other to minimize drops
  • Downsides: IPX4 water-resistance is designed for splashes so not the best choice for running in heavy rain
amazon.com Amazon.com $94.99
4 used from $94.99
See Deal
Last Amazon price update was: 12th May 2021 8:00 pm

Best Bone Conduction Headphones for Running

4. Aftershokz Trekz Air Wireless Headphones

Aftershokz Trekz Air best wireless headphones for running trail and kale 2

The Aftershokz Trekz Air wireless headphones use the clever bone conduction technology designed for over-ear headphones. This means that, unlike wireless earbuds, these headphones sit outside of your ears.

As explained in our buyer’s guide below, bone conduction wireless headphones like the Trekz Air are great if you want to listen to music when running but still be aware of ambient sounds from the world around you.

When running with these wireless headphones on you will naturally not get the same level of sound quality or immersive experience as you do with wireless earbuds, but this is a great option if you need to have some more awareness around you, for example if you run on or near roads and still want to listen to music.

  • Sound quality: Good
  • Waterproof rating: IP55 (sweatproof – not waterproof)
  • Weight: 1.06oz
  • Battery life: 6 hours
  • Reasons to buy: Ideal if you need world-awareness while listening to music
  • Downsides: Less immersive and design is less minimal than true wireless earbuds

Best Over Ear Headphones for Running

5. Beats Powerbeats Pro

Beats Powerbeats Pro best running headphones trail and kale

The Beats Powerbeats Pro headphones have a pretty impressive battery life of 9 hours on a single charge, which is enough for many trail runners and even many mid-distance ultrarunners. It also means you could wear them non-stop for all, or at least most of your work day (depending on how many hours you work) without having to charge them.

A 5-minute quick charge delivers 90 minutes of playback. They’re rated IPX4 which protects them from sweat and light rain but not submersion.

This running earphone style is a good choice if you don’t get on well with the in-ear earbud style headphones. The over-the-ear headphone design is slim enough for if you wear a cap/hat whilst running but if you wear sunglasses too then these may get in the way.

  • Sound quality: Excellent
  • Waterproof rating: IPX4 (water-resistant)
  • Weight: 0.71oz
  • Battery life: 9 hours (total 24hrs+ with case)
  • Reasons to buy: Excellent sound quality from over-ear headphones
  • Downsides: Bulkier case and may interfere with sunglasses over your ears
amazon.com Amazon.com $169.95
4 new from $169.95
8 used from $125.59
See Deal
Last Amazon price update was: 12th May 2021 8:00 pm

Wireless Running Headphones Buyer’s Guide

Compared to choosing wireless headphones for everyday use, there are specific features that a good pair of headphones need to have in order to be suitable for wearing when running and working out.

These are the most important features to be aware of when choosing headphones for running, and are therefore also the key criteria used in selecting the wireless earbuds and over-ear headphones that made it onto this list:

  1. Fit – They must feel comfortable, and fit securely so they don’t fall out while running fast or climbing over uneven terrain on a trail run.
  2. Weight – If they are lightweight then they won’t become a burden when running for long periods of time.
  3. Sound Quality – The better the sound quality, the more you’ll enjoy the overall experience.
  4. Battery Life – Ultrarunners, hikers, and thru-hikers will prefer headphones with a long battery life. Don’t get left without music when it’s needed the most, in the pain cave. It’s also generally just more convenient to not have to charge your headphones after every use.
  5. Durability – Generally we runners need headphones to be as weatherproof as possible, to protect them from sweat, dust and preferably rain too! Being robust is also helpful when it comes to workouts and running on roads, because even if earbuds stay in your ears, you can accidentally drop or knock them out and it would be preferable for them to still work after being dropped, when you’re spending so much money on wireless headphones.

Are true wireless earbuds good for running?

With the introduction of faster, more secure wireless connection technologies like Bluetooth V5.0, true wireless earbuds are in my opinion are the way to go! Some, like the KLH Fusion wireless headphones even come with noise-canceling technology now and many are very comfortable to wear in your ear for extended periods of time.

Wearing wireless earbuds for running is so much more enjoyable than managing a cord between your phone and headphones, and stopping it flapping around, getting caught or pulling your headphones out of your ears when you run.

The best true wireless earbuds come in a compact, robust case that also holds some battery charge. This means that you can put your earbuds back in the case when they’re low on battery, and charge them full (or at least partially) to extent the number of hours playtime you can get from them before having to plug them in. This is a great feature to look out for if you are planning to run long distances such as ultra marathons or do multi-day running or hiking weekends where you intend to use your headphones for long periods and don’t want to have to worry about them running out of battery.

Are over ear headphones good for running?

One of the things in particular that we love about sports headphones that use bone conduction technology, such as the Aftershokz Tredz Air, is that you can listen to music but still be aware of ambient sounds from the world around you.

This includes sounds from people trying to get your attention while you’re running or working out, potential hazards, like cars or bikes, but also the wonderful sounds of nature while on the trails. Having the luxury of being able to listen to music and ambient surrounding sound, does however mean that the sound quality will never be quite as immersive as wireless earbuds. “Horses for courses” as they say, and many people will love these for the safety benefits while running.

Are Airpods good for running?

If you have an iPhone, and especially if you are used to using your iPhone regularly for phone calls and listening to music while commuting or at work, you have probably considered whether you can go running with Airpods and if they’d be good for running. In my experience, Airpods are really comfortable to wear for long periods of time, including long conference calls and listening to music at work and commuting.

You can definitely wear Airpods for running, and if they are comfortable and don’t fall out when you run, then that’s great! However, the main downside to Airpods when it comes to wearing them for running and workouts, and that is that they are not the most robust, and are prone to breaking if you drop them.

Additionally, I have found my Airpods to have a relatively short battery life, so this makes them less-well-suited to running than the other wireless headphones on this list.

Why do so many people enjoy running with headphones?

  • You can listen to your favorite music to help you through challenging moments in your workout.
  • If you use a Virtual Trainer app then you need headphones to get your real-time coaching as you run.
  • You can listen to your favorite podcasts or Audio Books that you may not be able to find time for in the rest of your day.
  • If absolutely necessary, you can answer phone calls without requiring access to your phone. I don’t recommend talking on the phone during a run though, that time should be yours and only yours, so don’t let yourself get distracted.
  • Inadvertently let people know that you don’t want to be disturbed/asked for directions to the local tourist attraction, you tend to not get asked questions when wearing earphones.

Safety considerations when running with headphones

A quick word on safety considerations when running with headphones, especially if you’re wearing in-ear earbuds. If you are running near or around traffic or other people, it is sensible to either take your earphones out, turn the volume down very low, or run with only one earbud in, so that you can pay greater attention to what is going on around you and who is near you – for your safety and that of other people.

Some runners swear that running with headphones in makes them even more aware of their surroundings (by limiting your hearing perhaps you are more vigilant than you would otherwise be), however in our experience it’s best to err on the side of caution and save the earbuds for quieter areas, parks, trails and workouts in the gym, and if you really want to listen to music in busy places, consider bone conduction wireless headphones, instead.

Now you know what features to look out for when picking a pair of wireless headphones for running and workouts, click here to jump back up to see the list.


Key of running headphones water protection ratings

IPX4: Is resistant to water splashes from any direction.
IPX5: Can resist a sustained, low-pressure water jet spray.
IPX6: Can resist high-pressure, heavy sprays of water.
IPX7: Can be submerged up to 1 meter in water for 30 minutes.


I hope you found this list of the best running headphones useful, and if you have any questions drop us a comment below!

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13 COMMENTS

  1. Hi,
    Thanks for good reviews and thorough testing!
    Personally I prefer to have an awareness of the surroundings, is this something Vista or Tarah Pro offers? Or are they more on the insulating side?
    Keep up the awesome work!

  2. Hi Edward,

    The VISTA and Tarah Pro are pretty well insulated so you won’t hear much of your surroundings unless you opt to wear just one of the buds, which is very feasible with the VISTA as they are true wireless.

    Alastair

  3. I would steer clear of Jaybird products , they sound good and work well for a time, but…. seem to die after about 1 year and the company has a very limited warranty .

    Take a look at the Jaybird customer forums , there are many, many posts from customers complaining about earbuds not turning on

  4. It’s great this article! I always read your blog. | share this on Twitter and a lot of people love it.

    Keep this line. And I will always read your materials.

  5. Just to say that I have the tarah pro… and I do not recommend… they didn’t last 2 months… the right speaker died… and the costumer support… well… sucks….

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The Best Running Headphones & Wireless Earbuds of 2021 1 - Trail and Kale | Trail Running & Adventure

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